San Francisco 49ers 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
The San Francisco 49ers have been to two NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl in the two years they’ve been led by head coach Jim Harbaugh. Something tells me that’s not a coincidence.
It’s also not a coincidence that the mid-season quarterback switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick paid off. Harbaugh knows exactly what he’s doing, and has extremely well-rounded units on both sides of the ball.
With that said, the 49ers did lose the 2012 Super Bowl and could get better in a few areas. Let’s analyze what those are and what the 49ers could do to get even better in 2013:
Offensive Needs: WR, QB
Randy Moss shouldn’t be brought back, Mario Manningham got his knee shredded and A.J. Jenkins is probably a bust. It could be back to the drawing board for the 49ers at wide receiver. There are a number of solid free agents they could add, but they could just as easily find a quality option in the early rounds of the draft. Brian Hartline might work as a solid, yet reasonably priced option to pair with Michael Crabtree. They need someone to take the top off defenses, and he has shown he can be explosive at times. If they opt for the draft, Justin Hunter and Keenan Allen could both make some sense at the end of round one, while Robert Woods could fall to them in round two.
Alex Smith is almost definitely gone, which means the 49ers should get a quality backup for Colin Kaepernick who also has a similar skill-set to run the pistol option if needed. This draft class doesn’t have a ton of flexibility in that fashion, making E.J. Manuel the likely candidate. A dark horse could be Collin Klein, however. He’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he is a natural runner.
Defensive Needs: S, CB, DL
The 49ers got flat-out exposed in their secondary throughout the playoffs. It mostly came in the first half against the Falcons and Ravens, but it was quickly made clear that they could go about trying to upgrade at safety and corner.
I still like Dashon Goldson, but it’s arguably that Donte Whitner isn’t good enough in coverage anymore. If the 49ers see it that way, they could consider Matt Elam or Eric Reid. A guy getting a lot of buzz is Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien, and he could be a possibility here or in round two, as well. They could also just bring in Miami’s Chris Clemons, who will be a free agent.
The 49ers are starting to have some trouble at corner, too. Carlos Rogers is probably still fine, although he’s 32 and will eventually need to be replaced. After him, it should be open season. That could mean a ton of different options in the draft from round two and on. Xavier Rhodes is a popular pick of mine in round two, while Jamar Taylor out of Boise State and Mississippi State’s Darius Slay could also garner interest.
Beyond their secondary, the 49ers could definitely use some depth on their defensive line. Justin Smith fell apart near the end of the year and at 34, it may be time to realize he won’t go on forever. San Francisco could also use another big body to toss into the middle of their line, and with a deep DT class, the possibilities there are endless.
The 49ers will continue to have an elite defense, so this off-season is all about just making a slouchy secondary tighter and getting Colin Kaepernick enough weapons so that he can keep progressing. The arrow is still pointing up for an impressive San Francisco squad, while a good draft could easily mean a return trip to the Super Bowl.